ONE of Inverclyde's highest profile politicians has delayed standing down as council group leader until after the coronavirus crisis.

Gourock councillor Chris McEleny announced last year that he was to step aside from his role in the spring.

He said then that he wanted to make way for other councillors to get the same experience he has in the key scrutinising position.

But Councillor McEleny has decided to remain after he was asked by his branch to steer the ship through the Covid-19 pandemic.

The local SNP group's business manager Jim McEleny, who is also his dad, said: "During this current crisis, he has agreed to continue as group leader for the time being, as his experience is very much needed and welcome as we navigate through this."

The Greenock-born politician became one of the area's youngest ever elected members when he was voted in to represent Gourock eight years ago.

A year later, he was appointed leader of the SNP group at just 25.

During his time as a group leader he has stood for election as the party's national deputy leader.

Councillor McEleny has also been a leading voice in the push for independence without the need for a second referendum, known as 'Plan B'.

He has argued that Scotland should gain independence if a majority votes in favour of parties supporting it at next year's Holyrood election.

Jim McEleny praised his son's contribution to local politics in his role as opposition group leader during a time of severe cuts to services.

He said: "Not only is Chris my group leader, but also my son and I was so proud to see him elected in 2012.

"I went along to the count and felt the buzz, so much so that he convinced me to stand with him in 2017.

" We were both delighted to be elected, him for a second time.

"I've witnessed first hand the dedication and commitment he has put in to his constituents, council and the SNP.

"However, he has done this while maintaining a full time job outwith politics.

"Having to take annual leave or get out of bed while on nightshift to attend meetings takes its toll.

"On behalf of our group, his constituents and the wider SNP movement, I'd like to thank him for leading us so well.

"Although he's intimated his intention to step down as group leader, he will continue to represent the good people of Gourock and the wider Inverclyde community. "